Let’s take a look at the team news as Arsenal travel to Portugal to take on Sporting CP in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League.
Sporting CP advanced from the knockout play-off round after defeating Danish team Midtjylland 5-1 on aggregate and are now set to face Arsenal, who are considered as one of the top contenders to win the tournament after topping their group which also had PSV Eindhoven.
Despite having an inconsistent season, the Portuguese club may benefit from Arsenal’s focus on their Premier League campaign. In an exciting comeback, the Gunners managed to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory against Bournemouth, scoring the winning goal in injury time.
The North London side currently lead the Premier League standings and have been in impressive form, but Sporting CP coach Rúben Amorim believes that his team can still pull off an upset and wants his players to share his confidence.
These two teams previously met in the 2018-19 Europa League group stage, with Arsenal winning 1-0 in Portugal thanks to a goal by Danny Welbeck, but only managing a goalless draw against Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium.
With knee injuries keeping Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny sidelined, it is unlikely that they will be cleared to exit the Emirates infirmary this weekend. However, the Brazilian striker has resumed ball work and could potentially make a return later this month.
With a quick turnaround, Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith Rowe, and Fabio Vieira are all available and will be pushing for inclusion. During the first half of the Bournemouth game, Leandro Trossard appeared to sustain a knock and was subsequently replaced by Emile Smith Rowe in the 22nd minute. After the match, manager Mikel Arteta expressed his concern over Trossard’s injury.
The status of Eddie Nketiah’s injury remains uncertain, according to Arteta. It has been reported that the young English striker sustained an ankle injury before the win over Leicester City. The Gunners do not have any players suspended for this fixture, but if Kieran Tierney receives a booking, he will be unavailable for the second leg.
Interestingly, Hector Bellerin, who was a member of the North London side’s squad from 2011 to 2022, is now a part of the Portuguese club.
Player to Watch Out For – Paulinho
Paulinho is an agile and technically-gifted forward who possesses excellent dribbling skills and is known for his ability to create chances for himself and his teammates. He is also a lethal finisher and has a natural instinct for scoring goals. His pace and acceleration are other key attributes that make him a dangerous player in the attacking third of the pitch.
Apart from his attacking abilities, the Portuguese forward is also a hard-working and disciplined player who also contributes to the defensive aspect of the game. He has an excellent work rate and is always willing to track back and help his team defend when required.
In addition to his technical skills, Paulinho is also a natural leader on the field, and his experience and maturity have been vital for the success of the Sporting CP team. His ability to read the game and make quick decisions under pressure have made him a fan favourite and a valuable asset for the Primeira Liga side.
Sporting CP Form:
Arsenal Predicted Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Aaron Ramsdale (GK); Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB), William Saliba (CB), Gabriel (CB), Kieran Tierney (LB); Granit Xhaka (CDM), Thomas Partey (CDM); Bukayo Saka (RW), Fabio Vieira (CAM), Emile Smith Rowe (LW); Gabriel Martinelli (ST)
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Sporting CP 0-1 Arsenal
Sporting CP won their first League championship under Ruben Amorim two years ago, but they are now on a downward trend. Despite having a decent squad, they will likely find it challenging to compete against Arsenal, who are pursuing their first Premier League title in 19 years and are on an upward trajectory.
Mikel Arteta is expected to field the strongest team possible to secure a victory. He will be wary of making any significant changes that could result in surprises or upsets, particularly after their previous Europa League campaign.
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